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James (Diego) Ortiz

Augustinian Servant of God

ILLUSTRATION OF JAMES ORTIZ BY JÁNOS HAJNAL IN IL FASCINO DI DIO: PROFILI DE AGIOGRAFIA AGOSTINIANA  BY FERNANDO ROJO MARTÍNEZ, O.S.A.  COPYRIGHT © 2000 PUBBLICAZIONI AGOSTINIANE ROME. USED WITH PERMISSION.  ORIGINAL ART PRESERVED IN THE OFFICE OF AUGUSTINIAN POSTULATOR OF CAUSES, ROME

ILLUSTRATION OF JAMES ORTIZ BY JÁNOS HAJNAL IN IL FASCINO DI DIO: PROFILI DE AGIOGRAFIA AGOSTINIANA  BY FERNANDO ROJO MARTÍNEZ, O.S.A.  COPYRIGHT © 2000 PUBBLICAZIONI AGOSTINIANE ROME. USED WITH PERMISSION.  ORIGINAL ART PRESERVED IN THE OFFICE OF AUGUSTINIAN POSTULATOR OF CAUSES, ROME

James Ortiz (1532-1571), sometimes called by his Spanish name Fray Diego Ortiz, was an Augustinian missionary to Peru, where he was martyred.

Born near Madrid, Spain, probably in the town of Getafe, James entered the Order of Saint Augustine as a young man.

He was sent as a missionary to southern Peru.  He began his work of evangelization in the area around Cusco.  He learned to speak the Inca language Quechua, which he used to tell the Incas about Christ and minister to them.  He developed a reputation as a healer.

The Inca leader of the region at that time was Titu Cusi Yupanqui, nephew of the famous Inca ruler Atahualpa.  Titu Cusi converted to Christianity and was Baptized in 1568. 

At first, a friar named Marcos Garcia was appointed to continue teaching Titu Cusi about the Gospel of Christ, and to preach the word of God in the area around Machu Picchu.  James Ortiz joined Friar Marcos in these roles the following year.

Friar Marcos proved to be severe and inflexible in his attitude towards many of the Inca customs.  He left the area, leaving Friar James to carry on the work.  James was more understanding and tolerant of Inca ways, and he became a trusted confidant of Titu Cusi.

However, when Titu Cusi married a second wife and had her Baptized, James told him that it was wrong to have two wives. Titu Cusi died a short time later.  His second wife turned her anger against James, accusing him of killing Titu Cusi in order to demonstrate the doctrine of the Resurrection of the Body.

James was forced to celebrate a Mass.  When the body of Titu Cusi did not come back to life during the Mass, James was tied to a cross and carried to the new Inca ruler Tupac Amaru, the brother of Titu Cusi.

Tupac Amaru, without investigating the matter or even talking to James, ordered his execution as an enemy of the Inca gods.  James was severely tortured.  His death came after a wooden stick had been forced through his body.  This took place in 1571.

After Tupac Amaru died, James' body was taken to the Church of Saint Augustine in Cusco.

The cause for canonization of James Ortiz was begun in 1608.  However, this cause was not pursued.  The cause was opened anew in 1991.  The local investigation in Cusco and Lima was concluded in 1998.  The Congregation of Saints recognized the validity of the cause in 1999.  Josef Sciberras, O.S.A., the Augustinian Postulator of Causes, oversees the progress of the cause.